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MLA Book Citation


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How to cite a book in a bibliography using MLA

The most basic entry for a book consists of the author’s name, the book title, the publisher’s name, and the year of publication. This guide gives examples and guidance according to the 9th edition of the MLA Handbook.

Basic structure:

Last Name, First Name. Book Title. Publisher Name, Year Published.


Smith, John M. The Sample Book. BibMe Publishers, 2008.

Author formatting

  • Reverse the author’s name (Last name then first name), placing a comma after the last name and a period after the first name (or any middle name initial).
  • The name should not be abbreviated and should be written exactly as it appears on the title page.
  • Titles and affiliations (sir, mr., mrs., PhD., Dr., etc.) associated with the author should generally be omitted.
  • A suffix, such as a roman numeral or Jr./Sr. should appear after the author’s given name, preceded by a comma.


Smith, John, Jr. The Sample Book. BibMe Publishers, 2008.

Two authors

For a book written by two authors, both names are listed in the order they appear on the title page.

  • Reverse only the first author’s name and write the second name in normal order (first name last name).
  • Separate author names with a comma and place the word “and” between the names.


Smith, John, and Jane Doe. The Sample Book. BibMe Publishers, 2008.

Three authors or more

For books with three or more authors, include only the first author’s name in the citation, followed by a comma and the abbreviation “et al.”


Smith, John, et al. The Sample Book. BibMe Publishers, 2008.

Title formatting

  • Italicize the full title of the book, including any subtitles, and follow it with a period.
  • If the book has a subtitle, follow the main title with a colon (unless the main title ends with a question mark or exclamation point).
  • Use title case.


Smith, John M. The Sample Book: Let’s Learn to Cite. BibMe Publishers, 2008.

Publication information formatting

After the book title is the publisher’s name, a comma, then the year the book was published.

Where do you find this information? Generally, you will find the publication information on the title page of the book. If it is not available there, it may be on the copyright page.

Abbreviations for publisher names

Publisher names should be abbreviated where appropriate.

Omit articles (e.g., A, An) and business titles (e.g., Co., Corp., Inc., Ltd.). For example:

  • The BibMe Publishers –> BibMe Publishers
  • BibMe Publishers, Ltd. –> BibMe Publishers

If the publisher is an academic or university press, with the words “university” and “press” (in any language), abbreviate “U” for “university” and “P” for “press” in the publisher’s name. This will distinguish the publisher from the university, which may publish independently of the publisher in question. (e.g., Oxford UP).

  • University of BibMe Press –> U of BibMe P
  • BibMe University Press –> BibMe UP
  • BibMe Press –> BibMe Press


Smith, John. The Sample Book. Iowa State UP, 2008.

Citing an afterword, foreword, introduction, or preface

If you are citing a specific contribution to a book, such as an afterword, foreword, introduction, or preface, do the following:

  • After the author’s name, include either the generic label (e.g., Afterword) followed by a period OR include the unique section’s title in quotation marks (e.g., “Novel Moves”) followed by a period.
  • Include the page number or page range after the publication year. Separated the page and year with a comma, and follow the page(s) with a period.


Smith, John. Introduction. The Sample Book. BibMe, 2008, pp. 12-20.

Smith, John. “Unique Introduction Title.” The Sample Book. BibMe, 2008, pp. 12-20.

Citing editions or a revised book

When a book has no edition number or name, it is generally a first edition and no indication is needed. If the book you’re citing does show a later edition than its first, you should indicate the new edition in your citation. You will usually find edition details, including the date, on the title page or the copyright page.

  • Place the edition after the book title, and before the publisher. There is a period after the title, and a comma after the edition.
  • A numbered edition is abbreviated to “# ed.” (e.g., 9th ed.).
  • Abbreviate “Revised edition” as “Rev. ed.”
  • “Abridged edition” as “Abr. ed.”


Smith, John. The Sample Book. Rev. ed., BibMe, 2008.

Smith, John. The Sample Book. 2nd ed., BibMe, 2008.

Write ordinal numbers (e.g., 2nd) without a superscript.

You don’t need to include a source’s printing details, such as reprint details, in the source’s works-cited list entry. You may include an edition number as discussed above.


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“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”
— Gustave Flaubert

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